US - Oregon - Full Moon 246 - 09/16/16
Into the River
Space Cassette Records
The Elephant 6 Recording Company legacy lives on and on and on. It's been hard waiting and waiting for the new album by The Minders. Into the River was set for a September release,
but we've ('we' meaning the people taken part in the Minders' album crowd-funding project) gotten served a couple of teasers/tasters including a taster (or two) for everyone, as their new song
"Boiling the Ocean" was included on Portland's 2016 (2-disc) version of the annual PDX Pop Now! compilation. To paraphrase the title of The Minders' 1998 debut, Hooray for Tuesday:
Hooray for every day!
From the moment the opening track "It's Gonna Breakout!" bursts out, I know this record will be a fine pop album. Head-Minder, singer/songwriter Martyn Leaper and his 4 band mates of
the 2016 line-up of the band - guitar player Jeff Lehman, bassist Alex Arrowsmith, drummer Karen Page, and keyboard player (and pedal steel player) Joe Kincher - have been working quite some
time finishing the Minders' fifth (?) album proper. Ten years have passed since their last album, It's a Bright Guilty World (2006). In fact, the opening "It's Gonna Breakout!" was
launched as a single three years ago (for the Dirigeable / Space Cassette labels). And, well, yes, the song is simply a pure, sparkling pop song. Neat as only The Minders (or Leaper) can do
Leaper formed his pop vehicle some twenty years ago along with another great pop mind, Robert Schneider of The Apples in Stereo. At the time, Schneider
and his Apples had put out their fabulous first album, Fun Trick Noisemaker. The two bonded over the love for the same type of pop music: 60s styled nuggets. According to Dirigeable
Recordings, Leaper was (at the time - in Denver, Colorado) 'an art student struggling with painting and a dream to make pop records.' Well, together they steered Leaper's songs into a fine
string of singles, plus, eventually, the masterpiece debut album produced by Schneider, Hooray for Tuesday (Elephant Six Recording Co./spinART Records) in the fall of 1998. Then Leaper
(plus girlfriend and Minders-member Rebecca Cole - who later founded White Flag along with Helium's Mary Timony, plus Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney) moved to Portland,
Oregon. The following year saw the release of the compilation (B-sides plus) album Cul-De-Sacs and Dead Ends (spinART, 1999). Another marvellous, sunny pop album appeared some two years
later, namely Golden Street (2001). The band kept trying to spread their pop gems, another two albums went by, The Future's Always Perfect (2003)
and the aforementioned It's a Bright Guilty World - both for the San Francisco, California label Future Farmer Records. Then things stalled, Leaper probably needed some time to come
up with a new batch of songs for his everlasting recording project.
Enter 2016, and enter the completed new platter, Into the River. Its eleven tracks make a neat pop album. The chime of the 60s is indeed present as the songs curl out. "Natalie"
and "Terry" shines together like a happy (or happysad) couple. "Into the River" is sad and beautiful and it even has a 'sequel', "Into the River Pt. 2". Even though some (well, most) songs
are of the tearstained type of broken love/hearts, such as "Heart of the Heartaches" and "I Hope I Don't Let You Down" the overall tone is optimistic. Just listen to the powerful, energetic
smash of "Needle Doll", or the playful chill of the instrumental "I Know Where D.B. Cooper Lives" (about the myth of the 1971 plane hi-jacker who parachuted to a.. certain, but well hidden
death - or a wealthy, secret life somewhere. What more can I say? It was worth the wait. Into the River delivers the pop gem goodies as the summer stays around a bit longer.
Copyright © 2016 Håvard Oppøyen